With the second overall pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft, the Kansas City Royals selected Bobby Witt, Jr., a shortstop out of Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas. Witt is the highest Royals draft selection since Mike Moustakas was selected second in 2007.
Witt is the son of Bobby Witt, a 16-year MLB pitcher who appeared in 430 regular season games and was a former first-rounder himself with the Rangers, taken third overall in 1985, making them the highest-drafted father-son duo in MLB history. The elder Witt last pitched in 2001, when he won a World Series ring with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unlike his father, the younger Witt is a five-tool player that combines dynamic athleticism with strong intangibles.
Jim Callis at MLB.com writes that Witt is considered one of the best shortstop prospects coming out of the draft in the last 30 years. As a player, the 6’1” Witt draws comparisons to current Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story with what Baseball America describes as plus power. MLB Pipeline writes that Witt “didn’t always make consistent contact on the showcase circuit last summer but scouts aren’t worried about his bat” because Witt “shows good barrel control and some willingness to use the entire field.”
Witt should be able to stick at shortstop as a plus defender, with Baseball America describing him as having “elite hands, quick feet and a plus arm.” He pitches for his high school team, throwing in the low-90s, so the arm strength is there. He is described as a “plus runner who can impact the game on the bases.”
The Royals will also love Witt’s work ethic and intangibles, something scouts have raved about. Witt has been written as having humility rare for a player with such talent, and as the son of a former big leaguer, should have some familiarity with the pro game. There is some concern about Witt’s age, since he turns 19 in a few weeks and has faced younger opponents much of his high school career. But his skillset and tools are evidence of a player with tremendous upside in the pro game.
Witt was named Gatorade’s National High School Player of the Year for hitting .489 with 15 home runs this year, leading his school to their first ever state tournament. Witt has been on the radar ever since impressing as one of the youngest players to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game. He is committed to the University of Oklahoma next year, but seems likely to go pro instead.
The Royals have been linked to Witt for a long time, and every mock draft from big baseball sites has predicted Witt going to the Royals for months. From this perspective, the Witt pick is not surprising. However, Witt himself is a phenomenal talent that is almost unanimously considered the second-best prospect in the entire draft. Other high school shortstops taken in the top two picks over the last 35 years include Royce Lewis, Carlos Correa, Tim Beckham, Mike Moustakas, Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Jr., Matt Bush, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Mark Lewis, Kurt Stilwell, and Shawon Dunston.
Witt will find himself in the top half of most top 100 prospect lists after the draft and immediately becomes the Royals’ best prospect. After some media appearances, Witt will likely kick off his pro career in either the rookie league Idaho Falls or Low-A Lexington Legends in a few weeks.
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